Today both Environment Canterbury (ECAN) and Nelson City Council declared a ‘climate emergency’. Christchurch City Council will likely follow on Monday, and a snowball effect will mean many more councils will make similar declarations in coming weeks and months. Thames Coromandel District Council meanwhile remains mired in climate science denial.
The contrast between ECAN and Nelson City Council’s commitment to and understanding of the need for urgent climate action and TCDC is depressingly huge.
Nelson City Council received a lengthy report and debated the climate emergency declaration for over three hours and voted 10 to 3 in favour. TCDC “debated” for less than five minutes before rejecting the LGNZ declaration.
ECAN received a comprehensive report from its Chief Executive which was peer-reviewed by senior staff and its lawyer. TCDC had no input from any staff or its in-house lawyer – just a bush lawyer “once over lightly” report from our Mayor which was full of errors and misrepresentations.
TCDC’s Mayor refused to even say whether she accepted the science that humans are causing climate change – the ECAN Report said “the science is irrefutable – climate change is already impacting ecosystems and communities around the world”
In declaring a climate emergency ECAN commits to “robustly invisibly incorporate climate change considerations into Council work programs and decisions” and “lead by example and monitoring and reducing Council’s greenhouse gas emissions”. TCDC has no current meaningful actions to reduce its emissions nor any plan to do so in the future.
Both council’s reports totally contradicted Mayor Sandra Goudie’s position that signing a declaration would have unknown financial and legal consequences. ECAN said the Council “could make a public statement recognising a “climate emergency” without it carrying any statutory or legal weight for future Council decisions”. Nelson City Council’s report said – “the declaration of a “climate emergency” by the Council would have no statutory or legal validity or obligations.”
ECAN referenced the IPCC’s Special Report in October 2018 which stated that “we have twelve years to turn greenhouse gas emissions around to limit global warming to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5-degrees, or face an uncertain future. This requires ‘rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems”. TCDC exhibited no sense of urgency whatsoever. The best that TCDC could do was to ask staff to “look into” the drivers of climate change.
“Environment Canterbury recognises the importance of and urgent need to address climate change for the benefit of current and future generations.
- The science is irrefutable – climate change is already impacting ecosystems and communities around the world, with increasingly frequent and severe storms, floods and droughts; melting polar ice sheets; sea level rise and coastal inundation and erosion; and impacts on biodiversity including species loss and extinction.
- The IPCC’s Special Report in October 2018 stated that we have twelve years to turn greenhouse gas emissions around to limit global warming to the Paris Agreement target of 1.5-degrees, or face an uncertain future. This requires ‘rapid and far-reaching transitions in energy, land, urban and infrastructure (including transport and buildings), and industrial systems’.
- Everyone has a role to play in delivering the change required.
As such, Environment Canterbury declares a climate emergency and commits to continue to:
- robustly and visibly incorporate climate change considerations into Council work programmes and decisions
- provide strong local government leadership in the face of climate change, including working with regional partners to ensure a collaborative response
- advocate strongly for greater Central Government leadership and action on climate change
- increase the visibility of our climate change work, including through quarterly updates
- lead by example in monitoring and reducing Council’s greenhouse gas emissions.”
The Nelson Declaration
Check out the media coverage –
Paul Gorman (Stuff): Environment Canterbury applauded for declaring region-wide ‘climate emergency’
Katie Todd (RNZ): Climate declaration: Don’t sideline rural sector’s ideas – councillor
1News: Environment Canterbury becomes first council in New Zealand to declare a ‘climate emergency’
Newshub: ’Climate emergency’: ECAN declares Canterbury officially in a state of environmental crisis
No Right Turn: Climate Change: A climate emergency in Canterbury
Herald: The science is irrefutable’: Two regional councils declare climate emergency
RNZ: Canterbury and Nelson councils declare climate emergencies
Skara Bohny (Stuff): Nelson declares climate emergency